COVID-19 Deaths 6 to 10 Times Higher for the Learning Disabled

The BBC reports “Covid: Learning disability death rates ‘six times higher.” In the United Kingdom, “Learning Disabled” is the same as “Intellectual Disability or ID” (formerly “Mental Retardation”) in the United States.

According to the BBC article, “Covid: Disabled people account for six in 10 deaths in England last year – ONS,” Their risk of death involving Covid was 3.7 times greater.

 

 

Help Us Simplify COVID-19 Terms!

EasyCOVID-19: We make COVID-19 info easy to understand.

Let’s Get Started!

Please help us simplify COVID-19 terms. It’s easy!

We show you a term / word and its definition. You can skip any term if you can’t think of a simple alternative. Below is a sample simplification form.

Simplification Form. Term = Quarantine. Sample simplified text = stay safe at home. Submit and Skip buttons.

Let’s get started!

Notes

EasyCOVID-19 Project Now Recruiting!

Please help us simplify COVID-19 info worEasyCOVID-19: We make COVID-19 info easy to understand.ld wide!

The EasyCOVID-19 project is now recruiting people to help us simplify COVID19 terms. Please help us by visiting our EasyCOVID-19 crowdsourcing app. This is the start of our project to simplify the COVID-19 information published by every country’s government websites.

Overall Plan

We will start with Massachusetts. We will then expand to the other U.S. states. We will then move to the 18 English Speaking countries, then the 21 Spanish speaking countries, then the world! This will help many huge populations, such as people with cognitive disabilities, non-native language speakers, the Deaf, and seniors. When they understand how to be safe and healthy, the whole world will be safe and healthy.

Our project would not be successful without:

Please help us now!

For more info, see our EasyCOVID-19 Website!

 

The EasyCOVID-19 Project

EasyCOVID-19 LogoThe COVID-19 pandemic shows that, for all of us to be safe and healthy, all of us need to understand reliable COVID-19 information published on the web by every country. Our new and exciting EasyCOVID-19 Project is simplifying COVID-19 information (text) and transforming COVID-19 infographics and charts to make COVID-19 info understandable by every country’s huge populations of:

  • people with cognitive disabilities and/or low literacy;
  • seniors and the Deaf; and
  • non-native language speakers.

We have a wonderful, international team of passionate, highly skilled people from around the world.

We will regularly publish our progress and information about our efforts.

For more info, see our EasyCOVID-19 Website!

 

A for Access-ibility

Open Access Technologies LogoA few months ago, I was interviewed for a new podcast series: A is for Access-ibility. Created by Open Access Technologies, the series spotlights accessibility experts making technology more inclusive for people with disabilities.

Watching the series is a wonderful way to learn about accessibility, and about how I think artificial intelligence will play an important part in its future.

Join me and host, Portland Helmich, for their third installment of A is for Access-bility.

I thank Howard Berke for inviting me to be interviewed.

CSUN and Assistive Technology

CSUN/Tseng College LogoAssistive Technology (AT) is experiencing amazing growth. An increasing aging population is creating new needs to address. Specialists are needed to identify user needs and connect them to the right AT. Assistive Technology used to focus on hearing, sight, or movement issues. Newer technologies are helping the way we learn and process information. These include:

  • Cognitive aids that help people with challenges in thinking skills
  • Computer software/hardware: voice recognition, screen readers, closed captions
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Machine Learning
  • Neuroscience

Recently, I learned about Assistive Technology programs at Tseng College. Tseng College is a part of California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Located in Los Angeles. One area that it specializes in is programs for mid-career adults. These programs are mostly online. This gives working people the ability to learn new skills on their own time. Instructors, classmates, and field experts create a supportive group environment.

Master of Science, Assistive Technology Engineering
This program is taught by working engineers. Students have hands-on experience in addition to the online course. The program provides:

  • Design experience to create new assistive technology
  • Project and team management skills
  • New technical abilities
  • Ability to define new uses for existing technologies
  • A working portfolio to share work with potential employers

Master of Science, Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services (ATHS)
This program is the first of its kind in Southern California. It creates skilled AT specialists who can:

  • See the connection between human and technology factors
  • Assess AT users’ needs and identify solutions
  • Explain and train the solution to the AT user
  • Translate the legal and political history of AT

New Beginnings with Vision-Aid (Part 4)

Vision-Aid Academy LogoVision-Aid’s overall mission is to enable, educate, and empower people with vision impairment. Part of that commitment includes connecting their community to the expanding possibilities of the digital world. Vision-Aid has built a wide variety of training for its students. Classes are available both in-person and online through Vision-Aid Academy.

Basic

  • introduction to computers;
  • computer applications; and
  • assistive technologies for people with vision impairment.

Intermediate

  • Microsoft Office (including advanced Excel training);
  • Internet;
  • specialized software applications; and
  • mobile technologies.

Advanced

Students can participate regardless of financial circumstances. Willing students have access to equipment and expert volunteers. Advanced students can develop their skills through additional projects. Real-world experience is available through Vision-Aid’s new Digital Accessibility Testing and Training Center.

The confidence gained from this experience has led to industry jobs. Vision-Aid’s hope is to continue building students’ confidence through more projects. I sincerely hope for Vision-Aid’s continued success. You can read more about Vision-Aid’s programs via its new brochure, “Vision-Aid at a Glance” or via the Vision-Aid Website.

New Beginnings with Vision-Aid (Part 3)

Vision-Aid 16 part Service ModelIn 2004, Ramakrishna (Ram) Raju, his wife, Co-Founder, and Vice President, Ravathy Ramakrishna, and a team of energetic volunteers created Vision-Aid. Their initial goal was to identify and address the many needs of people with vision impairment. But their larger mission was to provide a path for people in India with vision impairment to gain personal and professional independence.

Vision-Aid’s research and efforts produced a holistic, 16-element program. This program helps people with vision impairment through every stage of independence development. Vision-Aid’s offerings begin with assessment and training to navigate the challenges of everyday living:

  • orientation and mobility training
  • life-skills training
  • assistive aid and device training (includes braille readers for learning how to read Braille)

Vision-Aid continues to provide educational opportunities through online learning programs accessible through Vision-Aid Academy. They include:

  • basic computer skills (Microsoft Office, Internet, assistive technologies for people with vision impairment)
  • complex computer skills (Python, Digital Accessibility);
  • learning English; and
  • professional skills.

(The new Digital Accessibility Testing and Training Center also gives students the chance to do professional-level projects with supervision)

Vision-Aid’s Professional Development and Employment Assistance services help students connect their skills with industry jobs. This completes their path to independence. Services include:

  • soft skills training;
  • resume writing;
  • coaching/mentoring; and
  • placement assistance.

In addition, Vision-Aid has programs that help educate the public and create new prospects for their community. It has 12 centers across India helping underserved communities. With that broad picture of what Vision-Aid does, my next blog post will focus on how Vision-Aid connects people with vision impairment to the digital world.

New Beginnings with Vision-Aid (Part 2)

Ram and his team investigated building a Web accessibility program within Vision-Aid. It’s initial request for participants quickly produced 30 trainees. Then Vision-Aid turned to Deque University, a leader in digital accessibility training. Deque provides Scholarships for People with Disabilities. Vision-Aid trainees had free access to Deque University’s online program provided by Glenda Sims, Deque’s Team A11Y Lead. Over the next 4.5 months, trainees worked through Deque’s program with a team of expert volunteers. Graduates from the program received Deque University Certificates. The program was so successful that Vision-Aid trained a second round of students. In October 2020, Vision-Aid officially launched its Digital Accessibility Testing and Training Center.

Leading up to the launch, Ram, his team, and I spoke about a pilot program. The pilot would give Vision-Aid graduates the opportunity to work on their first paid project. During the program, 6 of Vision-Aid’s testers reviewed a Website for accessibility issues. Their performance was exceptional. They identified all accessibility issues and proposed real solutions. Ram and his team shared that this pilot was a huge confidence booster for Vision-Aid’s students. Testers were proud of doing productive work comparable to for-profit companies. Due to this experience, several testers proceeded to get industry jobs. Vision-Aid has a wonderful video of the students expressing their gratitude. It made me cry with happiness.

Building an independent life with a visual impairment can be challenging without support. Vision-Aid has created a path with support in all the right places. I am so happy to have been a part of this journey. In my next post, I will share more about Vision-Aid’s work.